AHGP Transcription Project

Lawrence County

Lawrence County, established in 1821 out of parts of Greenup and Floyd counties, and named after Capt. James Lawrence of the U. S. Navy, was the 69th established in the state. It is situated in the extreme eastern part of the state, on the waters of the Big Sandy river; and is bounded north by Carter and Boyd counties, east by the state of Virginia (from which it is separated by the Big Sandy and its east or Tug fork), south by Martin and Johnson, and west by Morgan, Elliott, and Carter counties. The surface is hilly and broken, and the soil fertile; corn, hogs, and cattle are extensively raised. The county is well watered, and the timber fine, such as beech, poplar, oaks, chestnut, black and white walnut; thousands of saw logs are annually sent to market. Coal of the finest quality abounds, and iron ore. Steamboats have ascended the Big Sandy as far as Pikeville, in Pike county.

Louisa, the county seat, is located between the Tug fork and the main river, or as it is oftenest called, the West or Levisa fork of the Big Sandy, 100 miles east of Frankfort, and 25 miles south of and up the river from Catlettsburg; it was established in 1822; population in 1870, 425, nearly double what it was in 1860.
There are 13 other post-offices or small villages in the county, including 2 iron furnaces; but we have not succeeded in procuring particulars.

Members of the Legislature from Lawrence County.

Jas. M. Rice, 1838-42, '46-50;
John L. Elliott, 1851-53;
Kenos F. Prichard, 1869-73.

House of Representatives
John L. Elliott, 1836, '37;
Green V. Goble, 1838, '40, '43;
Walter Osburn, 1844;
Wm. F. Moore, 1851-53;
John J. Jordan, 1853-55;
Andrew J. Prichard, 1855-57;
Sinclair Roberts, 1857-61;
Daniel W. Johns, 1861-65, resigned 1864;
D. J. Burchett, 1865-67;
John. M. Rice, 1867-69;
George R. Diamond, 1869-71;
George Carter, 1871-73.
From Lawrence and Carter counties:
Jas. Rouse, 1841;
Samuel Short, 1845;
Ulysses Garred, 1848;
George R. Burgess, 1850.
From Lawrence and Morgan counties:
Wiley C. Williams, 1824;
Elisha McCormas, 1825;
Edward Wells, 1826;
Rowland T. Burns, 1828, '29, '30;
Jos. R. Ward, 1832, '33, '35.
From Lawrence:
Ulysses Garred, 1873-75.

In 1805-6-7, over 8,000 bear-skins were collected by hunters in the region of the Big Sandy and Kanawha rivers, and forwarded to Europe to make grenadiers' hats and otherwise decorate the soldiers of the hostile armies—good skins realizing to the hunters $4 to $5 each. This region was the paradise of bears, which fattened upon the chestnuts and acorns, that grew in far greater abundance than now because the original forests were untouched.

Origin of the Name of the Tug Fork
"The destruction of the Roanoke settlement in the spring of 1757, by a party of Shawnee Indians, gave rise to a campaign into the region of country just east of the Big Sandy river called by the old settlers, 'the Sandy Creek voyage.' This expedition was for the purpose of punishing the Indians, and to establish a military post at the mouth of the Big Sandy, to counteract the influence of the French at Gallipolis with the Tndians. It was composed of four companies, under the command of CoL Andrew Lewis. The captains were Audley Paul, Wm. Preston (ancestor of the late Gov. Preston), Wm. Hogg, and John Alexander, father of Archibald Alexander, D.D., first president of Princeton Theological Seminary. The party were ordered, by a messenger from Gov. Fauquier, to return. They had then penetrated nearly to the Ohio river, without accomplishing any of the objects of their expedition. When the army on their return arrived at the Burning spring, in the present limits of Logan County, Virginia, they had suffered much from extreme cold as well as hunger; their fear of alarming the Indians having prevented them from either hunting or kindling fires. Some buffalo hides which they had left at the spring on their way down, were cut into tugs or long thongs, and eaten by the troops, after having been exposed to the heat from the flame of the spring. Hence they called the stream near by, now dividing Kentucky from Virginia, Tug river, which name it yet bears. Several who detached themselves from the main body, to hunt their way home, perished. The main body, under Col. Lewis, reached home after much suffering; the strings of their moccasins, the belts of their hunting-shirts, and the flaps of their shot-pouches, having been all the food they had eaten for several days."

Richard Apperson, Esq. of Mount Sterling, had in his possession one of the oldest patents probably now in Kentucky. It was issued by the crown of Great Britain in 1772, to John Fry, for 2084 acres of land, embracing the town of Louisa, in this county. Nearly one-third of the land lies on the Virginia side of Big Sandy river. The survey upon which the patent issued was made by General Washington between 1767 and 1770, inclusive, and upon the beginning corner he cut the initials of his name. Nearly every corner was found well marked. It has not heretofore been generally known that George Washington was ever in Kentucky. Another survey was made by him for John Fry, on Little Sandy river, eleven miles from its mouth, and in the present county of Greenup. The town of Louisa, and the whole of the lands included in the patent, are held under the title of Fry.

In the year 1789, Charles Vancouver settled in the forks of Big Sandy, and employed ten men to build a fort and cultivate some corn. This settlement lasted but a year, as the Indians in a few weeks after Vancouver took possession, stole all the horses, and continued to be troublesome.

James Lawrence, (in honor of whom this county received its name,) a distinguished American naval commander, was born in New Jersey in 1781. In 1798, he entered the navy as a midshipman. In 1801 he was promoted, and in 1803, during the Tripoli war, was sent out to the Mediterranean as first lieutenant of the schooner Enterprise. While there, he performed a conspicuous part in the destruction of the Philadelphia frigate, which had been captured by the Tripolitans, and took an active part in the subsequent bombardment of the city of Tripoli. In 1806, he returned to the United States as first lieutenant of the John Adams. In 1812, after war was declared between Great Britain and the United States, Lawrence was appointed to the command of the sloop of war, Hornet. In February 1813, off the Brazil coast, the Hornet fell in with the fine British sloop Peacock, which she captured after a furious action of fifteen minutes. The Peacock was so much cut up in the short action, that she sunk before all the prisoners could be removed. For this gallant action, Lawrence received the thanks of Congress, with the present of a sword; and his return to the United States was welcomed with the applause due to his conduct. Shortly after his return, he was ordered to Boston, to take command of the frigate Chesapeake, confessedly one of the worst ships in the navy. He had been but a short time there, when the British frigate Shannon, Captain Brooke, appeared before the harbor and challenged the Chesapeake to combat. Lawrence did not refuse the challenge, although his ship was not in condition for action. On the 1st of June, 1813, he sailed out of the harbor and engaged his opponent. After the ships had exchanged several broadsides, and Lawrence had been wounded in the leg, he called his boarders, when he received a musket ball in his body. At the same time the enemy boarded, and after a desperate resistance, succeeded in taking possession of the ship. Almost all the officers of the Chesapeake were either killed or wounded. The last exclamation of Lawrence, as they were carrying him below, after the fatal wound, was, "Don't give up the ship." He died on the fourth day after the action, and was buried with naval honors at Halifax.

On Big Blain creek, in Lawrence county, on the night of Feb. 13, 1873, a strange rumbling sound, resembling distant thunder, was found to have originated from an opening in the earth, of a dark color or smoky appearance, and about two feet in diameter, near a ledge of sandstone. Pieces of this stone weighing about 10 pounds were broken off and thrown a considerable distance. The earth around this opening, for several feet, was thoroughly cleared, as if swept with a broom, from all accumulations of loose dirt, leaves, and small stone. Three other explosions near the same spot were heard, within three days before.*

*Letter of Daniel Casey, Feb, 22, 1873.

Source: History of Kentucky, Volume II, by Lewis Collins, Published by Collins & Company,
Covington, Kentucky, 1874

Be sure to add us to your favorites list and check back often.

This page was last updated Saturday, 19-Dec-2015 13:22:19 EST.

Webspace for this site is generously provided by

Information contained on this website may be used for personal genealogical research only and not to be given to pay to view sites or used on any other web site without the express consent of the contributor.

Copyright © 2015~2024 by Paula Franklin & Judy White